Imagination limits reality. In “Horses of the Night”, Margaret Laurence suggests that attempts to live unconstrained by an uncontrollable circumstance using imagination as an escape can prove insufficient and detrimental. Chris, the protagonist, is born into the Great Depression, has a dream that cannot come true. Chris attempts to escape this circumstance to realize his dreams. These attempts at escape leave Chris in a broken psychological state. Chris has a dream of becoming an engineer but his environment prohibits him.
He is a hopeful young man who moves into Manawaka to attend high school.
The relationship between Chris and Vanessa offers insight into Chris’s inner most thoughts and motivations. He says, “What I am going to be is an engineer, civil engineer. (287)” This statement is juxtaposed with “The Depression did not get better, as everyone had been saying it would. It got worse, and so did the drought. (288)” This contrast is used to establish the central conflict of the story, Chris’s unachievable dream.
The Depression is Chris’s inescapable circumstance that he has no way of overcoming.
Although he is innovative and hardworking there is nothing he can do about his environment. Throughout the exposition, of the story Grandfather Connor acts as a reminder of Chris’s reality. He references Chris’s deceased father by mocking Chris for chasing his dreams. “Wilf wasn’t much good, even as a young man… If the boy takes after his father, it’s a poor lookout for him. (285)” This quote not only foreshadows the inevitability of Chris’ failure, but also reminds him of his hopeless reality. The Depression is described by Vanessa as an uncontrollable force brought upon the people by a malevolent God.
An allusion to the Bible is made when Vanessa describes the depression’s effect on Manawaka as “Children of Israel being afflicted by Jehovah but never in real danger of annihilation(288)” this again reaffirms the circumstance of Chris’s environment are unchangeable and unaffected by human means. Chris’s dream is pure and full of good intentions but the timing of his existence did not benefit him. But in turn prohibits him from ever achieving his dream. Chris surrounded by pessimism, grief and depression uses imagination to escape.
Chris uses false hopes to fulfil his dream of becoming an engineer by using imagination to escape reality . He fabricates the reality around him in order to escape using imagination. When Vanessa asks him about Shallow Creek, Chris weaves a fantastical story. These fabrications serve as an insight to Chris’s primary escape: imagination. Chris understands that his situation is inescapable but he will not accept that his dream cannot be achieve. Furthermore, when Chris faces negativity or confrontation he removes himself to his surroundings mentally. This trait is shown though his conflicts with Grandfather Connor.
When Grandfather Connor bludgeons Chris with harsh words, Vanessa comments “he gave no sign of feeling anything(285)” and “He would not argue or defend himself, but he did not apologize, either. He simply [appears] to be absent, elsewhere. (286)” Whenever he faces resistance or any form of reality, he escapes to his imagination. By ignoring the negative aspects of his life he cannot understand the fragility of his unachievable goal. The night before his departure Chris explains that “anybody can do anything at all, anything, if they really set their minds to it.
The action Chris takes prohibits the realization of his dream while his constant escape from an undesirable circumstance is disconnecting him from reality. Vanessa was an optimistic girl that bought into all of Chris’s tales and believed in all of Chris’s strange fantasies and unreachable dreams. But as the story progresses and the description of the effects of the great depression worsen, she becomes less naive to the destructive reality of her circumstance. This is unlike Chris who is still seemingly optimistic about his situation.
By persisting and working hard Chris’s only companion through his journey to realize his dream is his imaginative false hopes. It drives Chris forward motivating him to never stop believing and focus on the end goal. Although he is innovative though his business ventures it still cannot overcome the fact that his circumstance I far too much for him to handle. The reality of the great depression cannot be overcome by even the most hardworking because the circumstance surrounding Chris is an unstoppable force that will inevitable crush Chris’s dreams.
Even though Chris persistently tries to realize his dream the reality of his circumstances could not be escaped. Imagination although motivating Chris’s escape from reality, using imagination, not only destroys his dream but also his mind. Chris is cynical because he realizes that his once hopeful theory is now crushed by reality. He says “To believe in a God who is brutal. What else could He be? (298)” Chris, although, did all he could to achieve his goal, his circumstance, or the will of God, is prohibiting him. For Chris there is nothing more disappointing than to persevere to acquire his dream but to lose it all because of an uncontrollable force. When Chris talks about the war, he mentions “What kind of God would pull a trick like that? (298)” Chris understands the detriments of war yet he still feels the need to leave his current circumstance of Shallow Creek. Ironically, Chris escapes the reality of his circumstance by facing the reality of war. Even though he escapes so many times he cannot physically escape the reality of war. Chris comes home, insane and hospitalized.
This implies that Chris escapes into his imagination, going insane. Chris never faces reality. When reality is all around him there is no way to ignore it. Before he could merely shut himself off to the world, but in war there is nothing you can escape to, only insanity. Chris’s attempts to escape the reality of his circumstance, be it through imagination or false hopes prove, futile and fatal. Dreams need to be grounded within the boundaries of circumstance or else they will never come true, because reality will trample over imagination.
Cite this Chris’s major flaw in Horses of the Night
Chris’s major flaw in Horses of the Night. (2016, Jul 20). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/chriss-major-flaw-in-horses-of-the-night/